Saturday, January 19, 2008

True Leopard Server virtualization

On the outside, Mac OS X looks beautiful. No wonder a lot of people want to run it.

Mid-August 2005, crackers from the OSx86 Project take a version of Mac OS X already installed on a physical hard drive, copy it into a virtual hard drive, modify it to run in a VMware virtual machine, and distribute it on the Internet, hence allowing unscrupulous individuals to run what they claim is Mac OS X on any PC with VMware software.

In the following days, they refine the process: they take the Apple install DVD for Mac OS X, copy it into an ISO image, modify it to run on any PC, distribute it on the Internet, allowing unscrupulous individuals to run what they claim is Mac OS X on any PC.

But is it really Mac OS X these people are running? Of course not. It is an illegal modification and distribution of Apple's copyrighted work. It is dubbed a hackintosh.

Fast forward to the end of October 2007: Apple releases Mac OS X Server 10.5, and change its licensing terms, allowing it to be run inside a virtual machine, as long as the physical hardware is an Apple-labeled computer.

From that point on, things happen very fast. I have been primarily working on that in the last seven weeks, and it was quite stressing :)

End of December 2007, Alex Graf demonstrates at 24C3 QEMU running Mac OS X. This is true virtualization (it is running the unmodified OS), so this is promising, but quite a few things do not work:

  • You cannot install Mac OS from the Apple factory-sealed DVD.

  • 100% of the CPU is consumed.

  • No networking.

  • No rosetta (i.e. no support for PowerPC-only binaries).


On Jan 9th 2008, Parallels announces that they can run Mac OS X Server in a private beta version of their software. They subsequently demonstrate that capability at Macworld. They do not publicize the extent of their virtual hardware support, but various sources report that, like QEMU, they fail to install Mac OS from the Apple factory-sealed DVD.

On Jan 14th 2008, VMware announces and demonstrate at Macworld that they can, in a Technology Preview version of VMware Fusion:

  • Install Mac OS X Server from the Apple factory-sealed DVD.

  • Run Mac OS X Server with support for most virtual devices: mouse and keyboard, IDE and SCSI hard drives and optical devices, Gigabit ethernet, USB 2.0 devices. Sound is not working at this point, but who needs sound in a server anyway? :)




Virtual Leopard Server Gets Legit


Show floor video: VMWare demos virtualization of Mac OS X Server


Macworld: VMWare Fusion's Virtual Insanity

12 comments:

John Muir said...

There's nothing like a bit of competition to really heat things up. It's good for everyone that you and Parallels are all over eachother, slugging it out to win. Great stuff!

aid said...

"Mac OS X these people are running? Of course not."

Of course it is Mac OS X - just not a legal installation. Why would you possibly think it wasn't - due to one or two changed libraries? Tens of thousands of people run illegal copies of Windows XP - not one would say that that was not Windows.

No, I'm not a hackintosh user, but an owner of several real Macs.

Regis "HPReg" Duchesne said...

aid,

I think you are mixing 2 notions:

1) Running an unmodified OS without paying for it.

That is what some Windows users do. It is a moral/lawyer problem which is orthogonal to virtualization.

2) Running a modified version of an OS, and calling it the same as the unmodified version (regardless of whether you paid for it or not).

There are copyright laws to prevent somebody from distributing counterfeited watches while calling them Rolexes.

Even if you slightly change a library of the original OS, it is no longer the original OS. The new bits have not been certified and QA'ed by Apple. The new bits can adversely affect many applications.

And the reality is that hackintosh versions do not just change a library or two. They change the kernel to use new code (RTC instead of HPET) and different instructions (SSE2 instead of SSSE3), they change drivers. The hackintosh forums are full of "please try this mod and tell us what applications work/break".

These people distribute low-cost, low-quality counterfeited versions of Mac OS X. They can call it Mac OS X as much as they want, but that is not Mac OS X.

Ben said...

At the National Human Genome Research Institute we're very very interested in virtualizing MacOS X server on Intel XServes for a large genetic sequencing project. If there's any way to be involved in beta testing this, please let me know. My email address is stanfieldb@mail.nih.gov

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Mark said...

wow, Thanks for such a wonderful explanation and demonstration. more helpful. By the way I got some useful information about the virtualization through Cloudslam 2010 conference which is the world's 2nd annual and virtual conference.